Eduardo Saverin is in the news.
Who in the world is Eduardo Saverin? He’s a 31-year-old who was at Harvard with Mark Zuckerberg. He worked with Zuckerberg to create what was then called “The Facebook”, and the team made stacks of money when it launched back in 2004. Since then, Saverin, as CFO, has seen his influence and shares diminish after arguments with Zuckerberg, but he still owns a nice hunk of the social networking site.
Now, with the contemporary, ever-more-powerful Facebook about to go public with an IPO, its shares to be traded on stock exchanges, the two men stand to cash in even more bigtime. Billions of dollars will land in their bank accounts. That’s billions with a B.
Knowing this, Saverin decided months ago to move permanently to Singapore and renounce his American citizenship. Which means that the US will not be able to tax him on his gains, and the country where he and Zuckerberg were able to design the privacy-breaking Facebook will not be able to profit from Saverin’s use of its university, its schools, even its haven.
Because, as much of a jerk as Saverin might be as a cradle-US’er, turning his financial back on his own land, it turns out he was sheltered by the US at a time when he most needed it.
Eduardo Saverin was born in São Paulo to an influential Brazilian family, and grew up speaking Brazil’s native Portuguese. When he was 13 years old, his father, an industrialist, discovered that Eduardo’s name was on a list of potential victims of a gang specializing in kidnapping for profit. Of course, the family worried.
Did the Saverins hire more bodyguards and protectors? They did not. Did they move to Portugal? Again, no. Instead, they upped stakes for . . . America.
They moved to Miami, enrolled Eduardo in a private school which he attended through 12th grade (thence to Harvard, the beneficiary of US monetary support, and the educated minds of people who have been though US schools), and took full advantage of the excellent police force and stable environment of Dade County, Florida. Eduardo grew up in a comparatively sheltered place, thanks to American generosity and the fact that the police force was uncorrupted and thus the streets were moderately safe.
At that time, he and his family called the US a haven.
When Saverin was on the outs with Zuckerberg, when they argued over influence (and therefore money), who did Saverin call on for help? Ghostbusters?
No, he hired US-trained attorneys and made formal complaint through the US-supported court system, which awarded him Facebook shares.
The haven that sheltered the young Eduardo, prevented him from being kidnapped and possibly murdered, the place where he encountered excellent schools and helpful faculty, the nation he relied on to hear his claim in its impartial court system, is not good enough for him now, though . . . because like most Western democracies, the US attains its stability partly through taxation. The taxes that Eduardo Saverin, the erstwhile waif about to make billions, does not want to pay.
Pundits on left and right are weighing in on Saverin’s jettisoning of his US passport. Is what he’s doing legal? Absolutely. Is it ethical? Not quite.
Is it grateful? Puh-leez.
In a piece with the ballsy title “Why Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin is a schmuck”, writer David Gewirtz deems Saverin an “ungrateful S.O.B.” and says, “One of the first things they teach you in B-school is to pay the least amount of taxes you can within the bounds of the law, and even the IRS accepts this as a reasonable strategy. But going so far as to renounce the incredible gift of citizenship we gave to this man, and by doing so, saved him from kidnap gangs in his native country — that’s below reprehensible. . ..”
“Below reprehensible” is right.
After describing the brutal penal system of Singapore, Gewirtz goes on: “By not paying his fair share of taxes in the United States, [Savarin is] essentially stealing from all of the rest of us taxpayers who supported his education and his business venture . . . I have this simple message for Eduardo Saverin: you better walk the straight and narrow very carefully and follow every single law to the letter. Because if you don’t, and there’s any justice in this world, you will be subject to Singapore’s justice system.”
Exactly. Given Savarin’s penchant for champagne, it wouldn’t take much for someone akin to the college-age Eduardo, some opportunistic entrepreneur, to design a situation where Savarin would find himself in hot legal water.
I have another message for Savarin, though, and that is: look north. Way north. Past the nations of Malaysia, Cambodia, Laos. See that gigantic country taking up much of East Asia?
China, yes. You know what’s happening in China? Lots of little boys are being born, more every year, as gendercide of female fetuses continues and expands. In some areas of China, the sex ratio at birth has dramatically skewed from its normal 100 girls/106 boys to 100 girls/158 boys.
Right now, those tykes aren’t much threat. But give them and their little-boy neighbors twelve or fifteen years, and suddenly, testosterone kicks in, aggression ramps up. Too many males means more violence, more bloodshed, more risks being taken. China, with its aging population, will have neither the will nor the cash nor the ability to rein in its destabilizing cohort of young males (by 2034, 32 million excess young men). No nation can afford such huge armed forces, police force, or prison population.
But it can attempt to focus its young men and teenage boys in other directions. East toward the Koreas and Japan. West toward the former Soviet Socialist Republics. And, of course, south. In the coming years, millions of male Chinese will start to pour through the soft southern nations amid extraordinary carnage and aiming right for the prize of Singapore.
If he’s still there, Savarin will need a haven. It’s unlikely to be the United States.